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Peter Yu

Major:Civil Engineering
Mentor:Dr. Yinhai Wang, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Current research project: Enhancing the Safety and Operational Performance of Diamond Interchanges with the One-Sided Diverging Diamond Interchange Design

Peter Yu is a junior majoring in civil engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is passionate about transportation engineering, with interests in the areas of highway design, traffic operations and simulation, traffic signal control, intelligent transportation systems, and transportation safety. He is a member of the Smart Transportation Applications and Research Laboratory (STAR Lab) led by Dr. Yinhai Wang. In the lab, he develops and tests innovative geometric designs, traffic control strategies, and intelligent transportation systems to enhance safety and mobility for all roadway users. Peter has developed a new interchange design called the “one-sided diverging diamond interchange” (one-sided DDI). He currently conducts research on the safety and operational attributes of this new design. After his undergraduate studies, Peter plans to pursue master’s and Ph.D. degrees in civil (transportation) engineering.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Interchange ramp terminals (locations where freeway ramps intersect at-grade with arterial roadways) form the backbone of the entire highway system. Most ramp terminals are part of a diamond interchange, which is the most common highway interchange type in North America. Many existing diamond interchanges were constructed at least 50–60 years ago, when traffic demands were much lower and design standards were different. As such, many diamond interchanges have reached the end of their useful lives and now experience significant safety and operational problems. My research analyzes the safety and operational performance of the traditional diamond interchange, one-sided DDI, and other alternative diamond interchange forms. This work involves a comprehensive series of computer simulation tests in PTV Vissim and the Surrogate Safety Assessment Model (SSAM). The simulation test results are then compared to see if the one-sided DDI is a viable alternative to the traditional diamond interchange or other diamond interchange forms.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I first became interested and got involved in transportation engineering research in my sophomore year of high school. Transportation engineering is the foundation of civilization and has a profound impact on our everyday lives, which greatly intrigued me. During high school, I introduced myself to the transportation engineering profession and research and began to explore my topics of interest. In August 2020, before the start of my freshman year at UW, I reached out to Dr. Yinhai Wang about getting involved in his lab. I had known Dr. Wang since high school, and I found the safety, operations, and ITS research in the STAR Lab to be intriguing and essential to society. I then began working in the lab; while everything was online, I really enjoyed my work and interacting with Dr. Wang and the other lab members. Since then, I have continued my work in the lab and gained invaluable research, technical, and professional skills.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Find what you love and are interested in! Spend your time getting ahead by exploring your interests and learning more about them. Research builds on itself and there is always something new to be done, so don’t hesitate to get involved! Always keep an open mind to potential research topics and be open to new opportunities. Also, take risks! Don’t hesitate to reach out to professors, advisors, and others for any potential opportunities or to better yourself. Most importantly, don’t be afraid of rejection or failure! Do not be afraid to try something new or challenge even the most well-established concepts.